Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Will They Say About Us?

Since Dory started enjoying books (really enjoying them, not just wanting to mouth them or rip the pages) we've been reading stories at bedtime. This has been months now, maybe even a year? Hard to recall in fuzzy mama memory.

Occasionally its a quick night; on nights where she's exhausted, she's out in the middle of the first book. Most nights, its anywhere from three to eight stories and lately I've felt impatient. Impatient to finish, for her to fall asleep.

(Dory at eighteen months)

Last night, on the sofa, I performed my typical feats of nursing and reading simultaneously. Just as thoughts, that mental chatter, started to pop up ("surely it will be soon; she must be tired") and words to follow ("one last story, OK, sweetie? Last one."), an entirely new image popped into my brain. I imagined her, as an adult, relating to me how our ritual of reading at bedtime was a cherished childhood memory. I heard her, really, almost heard the words, saying she treasured that time, she felt special, loved, safe and valued. That she, as an adult, appreciated that we would read "one more story" and then "one more story" after that, that we read them gladly and with pleasure.

(Dory at two and a half)

And the words "last one, last time" disappeared. We read until she fell asleep, somewhere near the end of "The Sword and the Stone" from Walt Disney's Classic Storybook, a book she loves though I don't think she's actually seen one movie from the entire collection. And then for another half hour after that, we stayed cuddled there on the sofa, she, this long, slender toddler, sprawled across my arms and I imagined myself, saying back to her, in those later years, "Dory, our bedtime stories are some of my best memories too. Some of my very best."

(Last week, napping the day after I declared 'She's all done with naps, I think!' Ah, we wise and all-knowing parents...)

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